GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Article on Chud about Serenity and its Fans

POSTED BY: ANTHONYT
UPDATED: Thursday, October 13, 2005 10:52
SHORT URL:
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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 7:32 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=news&id=4662


OUT OF GAS
10.09.05

By Devin Faraci

It’s been interesting, this past week, to watch the Browncoats go through all the stages of grieving as laid out by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. First there was denial, where they claimed that, hey, ten million dollars and coming in second to a shitty movie that had already been released the week before was OK. Next came anger. I found myself at the receiving end of this stage of grief after I had what they (and Joss Whedon) took to be the incredible gall to call it as I saw it – ie, that Serenity’s opening weekend tagged the film as one that would not make back its money at the box office. (And this weekend's performance - staggering into the top ten at 9, indicates that I was right. Look for Serenity to make 25 million domestically.)

The bargaining stage was, for me, the most disturbing stage. This is when the Browncoats began buying tickets to the movie to give to complete strangers, or even worse, seeing the film seven, eight or nine times in a weekend. It just seems that no one should ever see a movie that many times in that short a time frame. A movie isn’t a song – it isn’t built for such repetition.

Depression was next. The official Serenity Browncoats boards and sites like Whedonesque and FireflyFans were filled with people saying they felt like they were kicked in the chest, or were at the end of their tether. Some people – probably the ones who had previously posted such disturbing things as that the death of a character in the film made them cry for a week – reported what sounded like serious depression.

By the time Friday’s numbers (which I would say were dismal, but I don’t want to have one of my favorite artists jumping down my throat again) came in, most of the Browncoats had come to the acceptance stage. They finally understood that this was going to be the end of the road for this property, that Serenity would more or less be the swan song for these characters.

Like I said, it’s been fascinating to watch. I don’t think there’s ever been a fanbase like the Browncoats (and at this point I feel like I should try to have some sort of definition. Not everyone who bought the Firefly DVDs – people like me, for instance – is a Browncoat. The Browncoats are mostly self-identified, and the Browncoats I’m talking about here are the sort of rabid fans who call it “our” movie, as if they made it), and in the last week it’s taken the kind of hit that I don’t think any fanbase has taken since Star Trek first got cancelled. But even that is no comparison, since there was no Internet then, which means that most of Star Trek’s fans were sort of doing their nerd thing in a vacuum.

There are still some Browncoats in the denial phase. There’s a very vocal contingent, some of whom e-mail me a bunch, who claim that Serenity will get a sequel because the film will do well on DVD. Now, I don’t disagree that the film will do well on DVD. Serenity will, I think, be one of the better selling DVDs of the holiday season, and it won’t even be a bells and whistles edition. The problem here is that these folks have a serious disconnect when it comes to understanding how all this stuff works. It’s true that movies now make most of their profit on DVD. In fact, almost every single movie makes money when it comes to DVD, TV sales and foreign box office.

You need to take a minute and think about that. With the new math of big ancillary dollars, almost every movie released ends up making some sort of money. That’s even beyond the studio’s voodoo accounting (for those not in the know, many studios cook the hell out of the books to show that their films DON’T turn a profit so they don’t have to share that profit – do a Google search for Art Buchwald and lawsuit for some eye-opening info). So why doesn’t every single movie get a sequel? Why am I not right now reporting on the filming of the next Riddick chronicle?

Here’s what you have to understand about Hollywood, here’s the essential paradox that makes it all come together – it’s a business about art. The people who run Hollywood are, at heart business people. They want to make money, and they want to do it with the least risk. That’s why you see so many shitty movies that fall into so many shitty formulas. If it worked once, they hope, it’ll work again.

But if they just wanted to make money, there are other industries that don’t have the kind of risk the movie industry does. The people in Hollywood aren’t just drawn by the money – the suits come for the glamour and the art. The glamour is self-explanatory (how often does the owner of a paper company get profiled by major magazines?). The art is how they convince themselves that they’re doing something different than the guy who owns a paper company. What all this adds up to is that the Hollywood executive type isn’t just looking at a spreadsheet covered in numbers – there’s a complex series of neuroses and delusions that inform their decisions.

These neuroses and delusions work two ways. They’ll make a movie that can never earn money because it’ll be a possible Oscar contender or otherwise a “prestige” picture (and I do know that there are still other, more complex reasons for this – the desire for art is one, but there’s also the idea that cultivating the image of being a studio who is “good to the talent,” ie is willing to throw 30 million down the toilet for a prestige project, will pay off by attracting other, more money earning, talent). But it also means that appearances are everything. And while the foreign box office may account for up to half a film’s total take, the appearance remains, as it has for a hundred years, mostly about the domestic box office.

There are still more calculations to work into the profit of a movie. Sometimes companies split the foreign distribution, so that other companies take a bit from the totals (look at Lord of the Rings, for example). But I still believe that at the end of the day it’s all about the domestic box office. Sure, DVDs are a big profit machine. But why hasn’t there been a blockbuster film starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg that has been released straight to DVD? That stigma may yet change, but it hasn’t. And it’s not going to be changing in the next few years. And Universal, the studio that released Serenity isn’t helping. They have begun releasing extremely cheap and shitty direct to video sequels and prequels, like Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power and American Pie: Band Camp, which won’t make DTV look any classier. Might they release a Serenity sequel DTV, though? Maybe, but judging by their current DTV slate, it'll cost 10 million dollars, and I don't think you can make a sequel for that amount of money.

Serenity will, without a doubt, at some point in its history, make back the money Universal spent. It may even make an actual profit on top of that. But that’s not going to make things any different for the franchise.

This is mostly math and a basic understanding of the movie business, which you can get from just watching it for a while. So why does this make people angry? Part of it is that some of the Browncoats, like the rest of the American population, believe that box office success is some barometer of a film’s quality. When I said that the film was dead out the gate, they weren’t mad that I sold it short, but rather they thought I was passing judgement on the content of the film (and it’s interesting how many e-mails I received and how many anti-me message board postings I read incorrectly referred to my original article as a “review”). Many of us have long ago come to the conclusion that there may in fact be an inverse relationship between a film’s quality and its box office take, but everyone needs to lose their innocence at some point.

What these folks should have been focusing on from the first day is that they were lucky to get a pretty good film when they really had no right to expect one. Firefly isn’t the first TV show that failed and got a movie and it’s not even the most extreme – Police Squad lasted 6 episodes and spawned three Naked Gun films. And let’s not forget Star Trek and Twin Peaks, which ended up in Fire Walk With Me. You got a wrap up, people, which is a lot more than most cancelled shows ever get (including far superior shows like Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared).

So what now? I wouldn’t worry too much about Joss Whedon, beyond any inevitable emotional scarring he may experience. The film underperformed in a big way, but it was well received by critics. The perception is going to be that the film didn’t open, but it probably won’t be laid at his feet. He’s considered talented and executives will remain impressed by his loyal fanbase. He may find himself in a Kevin Smith scenario – his films will be considered to have a profit ceiling and thus will have a budget ceiling – but he has two major chances in his near future to make films that earn plenty of dough.

Earlier I talked about what made the Browncoats unique as a fanbase. There’s one thing I left out, that I left for the end, that I think makes the Browncoats very different from other fanbases in the past. I don’t remember ever having seen a fanbase that was so completely co-opted by the marketing forces before this.

I know, you’re going to yell at me here. I am not writing this to get more attention, I swear. This is something that you may well disagree with, but it’s something I have given lots of thought to. Essentially I am concerned that the wall between marketing and the fans has disappeared.

Let’s be honest, CHUD.com was one of the first steps in that happening. CHUD, and Aint It Cool and other internet movie sites all began as fan sites. When these sites first opened, there wasn’t a relationship between the webmasters and the publicity people at the studios. It’s taken years to get to the point where CHUD is regularly a part of the massive press junkets studios hold, I’m not fully certain that it’s a good thing that it has happened, but it has.

So the publicists have been trying to get in bed with the fans for some time, and the Browncoats aren’t the first street team, but I do think it’s the first street team that has been so seamlessly grafted onto the body of an existing fanbase. Street teams are cheap for the publicists – you make the fans do the work; they promote your movie all over the place and you just send them some cheap t-shirts and other materials, which are in and of themselves promo materials anyway. But I have seen Browncoats taking up the marketing without even being a part of the official site street team. I have read about Browncoats literally spending hundreds of their own dollars promoting this film by printing flyers, by taking out ads and by buying tickets for strangers. That, frankly, isn’t right. Your duty, as a fan, is to enjoy the film. Maybe bring in a friend. But that should be it, and you should never feel that you’re letting a film or a filmmaker down because you only recruited fifteen people.

And that’s where the whole thing takes on the feel of a religion. People were proselytizing at movie theaters, accosting patrons who seemed to not have made up their minds about what to see. There doesn’t seem to be a very huge amount of difference between that and the Scientologists who man tables in Times Square every day and night, offering you a “free stress test.” The religion comparison really crystallizes when you see how the Browncoats talk about – or yell at – the non-believers and heretics who dare to not like the film. Guys, chill out and remember that it’s a movie.

There’s an impression out there that I hate the Browncoats (maybe scared of would be a better way to put it) or that I didn’t like the movie (it’s not making my top ten of the year by any stretch, but I gave it a solid 8 out of 10). The honest truth is that this is a film that I was looking forward to, and I found myself fascinated with its box office, and eventually with its fans. This movie has presented, to me, a microcosm of what is good and bad about the state of fandom and the internet, and there’s more I could have written about. Just the way that Joss interacts with the fans could give me a slew of future editorial – is the elimination of the wall between author and audience a good or bad thing? Should an artist heed the fans (and bicker with them, as Kevin Smith has embarrassingly done at Aint It Cool) or should he ignore them and follow his artistic vision? And should the fans be encouraged to become this invested in any franchise?

Maybe I’ll get to that stuff some other day. In the meantime, I look forward to your feedback – positive or otherwise. The real purpose of me spending this much time writing isn’t just to get attention, it’s to create discussion. Believe me, if I wanted to make more controversy I could have done it in a quarter of the words.

Contact me at devin@chud.com.




"Liberty must not be purchased at the cost of Humanity." --Captain Robert Henner

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 7:39 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important



So, what do you all think about this article? Is he right? Does he at least have some valid points?

--Anthony

"Liberty must not be purchased at the cost of Humanity." --Captain Robert Henner

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 7:59 AM

THELURKER


My first thought is that he seems to think that a minority of overzealous and abusive fans are representative of all Browncoats. It has been my experience in my short time here that most of you are a lot more positive and upbeat in your attitude towards both Firefly and Serenity. I think most people here have realistic expectations that a sequel is possible, but by no means a sure thing.

Now, he does make some valid points regarding what the film will probably gross domestically, and about DVD sales, however, I think he's seriously underestimating this particular DVD. It isn't just going to sell well. I think it will sell like hotcakes. There is a new Hollywood model starting to take effect and Serenity could well be part of it. I have personally spoken to many fans of the show and sci fi fans in general, who have no desire to see this movie, or ANY movie in a theater. The reason they give is that it's actually cheaper for them to buy it than to take the whole family out to the theater and with movie prices, gas prices, inconsiderate moviegoers, etc., it just isn't worth the hassle to go out, when they can have it at home in a few months.

Anyway, word-of-mouth campaigns, which films like Serenity need, take time. You don't expect films like this to hit big and stay big. The full scope of the work of the Browncoats will not be known until December. Then...well, we'll just see.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:00 AM

XEROGRAVITY


Some valid points. Some not-so valid. Lots and lots of rantific blathering. In a word...

windbag.

XG


No such thing as gravity. The "Earth-that-was" just sucks.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:07 AM

STEVE580


I'm sure most have read this already, but I figured I'd post it here again anyways, as it is in response to this article:

Joss Whedon:
So I was flouncing (that’s lurking but fancier) about WHEDONESQUE
(for which I have forgotten my password yet again) and I couldn’t
help but see the little CHUD.com hate-bomb that Devin wrote. I don’t
mind that he doesn’t love the film, but things like “It failed in a
big way” and “It’s over” are about as charming — and journalistic –
as “I was right.” I am being totally realistic when I say the
weekend grosses did not meet expectations — but those expectations
were based on models that don’t apply to this situation because,
seriously, nothing does. The industry is not calling this a failure,
just a slightly soft version of a normal opening in a generally weak
weekend.

Now I did meet Devin, and he’s not a dumb guy. But he seems to have
a real animus against you Browncoats, and that’s the thing I wanted
to comment on, ’cause that doesn’t sit well with me. He actually
blames you guys for making sci-fi fans stay away from the movie.
Says you should be ashamed for having adopted a name, that you will
start finger-pointing and bickering now that you’ve ’caused’
the ‘failure’ of your film. He blames other things as well — the
title, the ads — but that’s fine. If one –ONE — of you guys reads
that column and takes it to heart I’ll not sleep. You guys did an
amazing thing this weekend — and the exit polls showed how much you
guys were out there, and how much business you dragged in with you.
Not to mention everything you did for the months - sorry, YEARS –
before it opened. I’m crazy proud of you. Yes, there is an
exclusionary element to some fandom that is inevitable, but this
group has fought that as well or better as any, and maybe I’m a
nerd, but being compared to a Trekker (or even a TrekkIE) doesn’t
offend me a bit.

We all know this remains an uphill battle. We all know that next
weekend is crucial — and a lot of it will rest on us. A lot will
rest on the studio reaching people we can’t. And factors we can’t
see coming. But I don’t especially appreciate people calling Time of
Death while I’m still operating. I don’t like smug defeatism. And
nobody disses the ‘coats without me wading in. That’s all.

The question remains: Did Early die out there in space, or did some
passing ship show up at the last second? There’s no answer yet, but
I sure as hell know how I’d write it.

-j.


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:14 AM

GROOSALUGG


Quote:

Originally posted by TheLurker:
I have personally spoken to many fans of the show and sci fi fans in general, who have no desire to see this movie, or ANY movie in a theater. The reason they give is that it's actually cheaper for them to buy it than to take the whole family out to the theater and with movie prices, gas prices, inconsiderate moviegoers, etc., it just isn't worth the hassle to go out, when they can have it at home in a few months.



Exactly. That describes my normal attitude toward movies perfectly--the last thing I saw in the theater was The Green Mile in, what, 2000? Now in this case, because I'm such a fan, Serenity was worth going to the trouble for, but a lot of people who don't know anything about Firefly and are only moderately interested in the BDM based on what they've seen and read, they're just going to wait and buy or rent the DVD. It's just so much more convenient, and in most cases, a more enjoyable experience to watch something in the comfort of your own living room than in a theater full of (possibly loud and obnoxious) strangers...

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:15 AM

GIANTEVILHEAD


I do agree with him about how some of the fans are way too aggressive but thinking that they had a big effect on the boxoffice is just wrong. The rabid fans definitely had a negative effect but not comparable to the negative effect the crappy trailers and commercials had.

"I swallowed a bug." -River Tam

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:20 AM

XEROGRAVITY


Ya know. Honestly, responding to this is a collossal waste of nonrefundable lifespan. The guy invokes a "big name" school of psychology as the premise of his analysis of we "overzealous" fans. He is clearly narcissistic.

We supposed to be moved to great acts of defiance by a longwinded troll? Nonsense. Don't waste your time on this pseudo-intellectual and his psychobabble.

Let him rant and rave about movies like Yentl and Ishtar. I'm sure he can write labrythnine volumes of "penetrating insights" into the redeeming social value of garbage like that.

XG


No such thing as gravity. The "Earth-that-was" just sucks.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:21 AM

HOWARD


The article is excellent, intelligent, well writted and he is right about how gullable about the marketing seduction many browncoasts are. I for one do not take lightly the failure on Joss's part to respect established facts from the series.

The author is too negative about the potential of direct to DVD but very correct about the undermining of direct to DVD by Universal in releasing cheesy sequels and prequels. UNIVERSAL execs are idiots to treat DVD like 1980's VHS they should instead treat it as a mass market version of Laserdisc and a parallel to cinema release.

The author also underestimates international box office and international DVD.

The percentage of total revenue has long past the 50% mark for foreign income. It reached 50% in the early 1990's. Now with so many markets expanding the USA portion of box office is decreasing.

For example North American and European multiplex movie theatres are mostly drab and many people feel more pull by DVD and have bought top end home cinema systems. In contrast in Asia and Asia Pacific there is a new era of magnificent movie palaces in awesome multiplexes with super luxury and airline style 1st class/club class and economy ways of seeing a movie and having dinner and wine etc. While DVD sales in say South Korea are low compard to Europe or North America their cinemas are increasingly being transformed into high tech digital movie palaces so box office matters there more. While in Europe DVD matters more.

Even if only 100 million Chinese become English fluent and Western in their taste in the next ten years not only will film studios be consulting their desires but more and more movies will be made in China in English for the world.

Then an increasing number of Chinese language films will be seen in the USA as more and more Americans learn Mandarin at University and in their corporate complexes.

If 500 million Chinese become English fluent and Western in their taste the USA box office shall be downgraded to an after-thought.

In fact both Joss and UNIVERSAL are stupid and cowards for not taking a chance and making a truly bilingual English/Chinese SERENITY. The truth is a movie released even today with 50% Mandarin dialogue would have made MORE money not less.

The Chinese and Indian economies are set to take over world trade in years ahead.

A FIREFLY world for sure.




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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:41 AM

LYNNEC


Quote:

Originally posted by Howard:
In fact both Joss and UNIVERSAL are stupid and cowards for not taking a chance and making a truly bilingual English/Chinese SERENITY. The truth is a movie released even today with 50% Mandarin dialogue would have made MORE money not less.

The Chinese and Indian economies are set to take over world trade in years ahead.

A FIREFLY world for sure.





While the economies of China and India are already becoming force with which to be reckoned, I don't see Serenity having much opportunity to find a market in China. Why? When one of the central premises of the movie is of independant individuals functionally giving the middle finger to an overbearing central government, it might not be seen as acceptable fare for the populous of a country with just such a government, known for its restriction of information/media/etc.

Just a thought....

~ Lynne C. ~
---------------------
http://www.geocities.com/fic_girl_2003/index.html
http://www.cafepress.com/blood_love_etc

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 8:58 AM

GIANTEVILHEAD


No movies are popular in China, the new Star Wars only made about $9 million in China, less than what it made in South Korea, a country with less than 1/20th the population of China. People in China don't go to the movies. Pirated DVD's of new movies go for about 5 to 10 Yuan per copy, less than an US dollar, and they're available everywhere. Heck, 99% of all the CD's and DVD's in China are pirated, it’s almost impossible to find a place that sells legit CD’s and DVD’s.

"I swallowed a bug." -River Tam

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 9:23 AM

BROWNCOAT1

May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.


Does he have a couple of valid points about how Hollywood operates & the possible estimates for domestic box office for Serenity? Sure. He seems to have some insight into the industry & how movies work. Good for him. Hope his ego can take the stroking.

I agree w/ everything Joss said in the quote that Steve posted from Whedonesque. I don't care for this guy's "I told you so" or "I was right & you guys suck get over it" attitude.

So he reads a couple of things online about some extremist fans & automatically paints the entire fanbase w/ the brush he does the minority. Sounds pretty unreasonable to me.

Does this guy & his constant putting down of the fanbase & our odds rub me the wrong way? You betcha. Am I going to email him? Nope. Why waste my time & effort? This self righteous hwoon dahn can rot for all I care. Nothing any of us can say will make him see anything different than his own narrow minded, self absorbed opinion.

__________________________________________

"May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."

Richmond, VA & surrounding area Firefly Fans:

http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/richmondbrowncoats/

http://www.richmondbrowncoats.org


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 9:40 AM

HOWARD



There are Chinese communities all over the world. Plus an increasing fascination among other audiences.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 9:42 AM

HOWARD



As I said the THEATRICAL market in Asia is bigger than the DVD market. Do not forget INDONESIA.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 9:45 AM

SPINLAND


Well, I did e-mail him my objection to being tarred with the same brush as the no-life backbirths who gave (give) the rest of Browncoats a bad name. Might not do any good at his end, but it made me feel better.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I don't know what your problem is, but I bet it's hard to pronounce.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 9:52 AM

GIANTEVILHEAD


Counterfeiting is extremely rampant in China, India, Indonesia, and all the third world countries in Asia. Not only are the counterfeit DVD’s extremely cheap, most of them are high quality, ripped from screeners. Not to mention the fact that movie theaters are almost non-existent in those countries. I’ve been to China, I’ve been to India, I’ve lived in a Chinese city of three million called Taiyuan, there were about four or five movie theaters in the entire city, not multiplexes, single screen movie theaters, dirty and empty single screen theaters.

"I swallowed a bug." -River Tam

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 10:37 AM

SHINY


Sounds to me with all the armchair psychoanalysis, this guy is telling us browncoats to deal with the "fact" that this is the end for these stories.

But browncoats are like Mal. As Fanty (or Mingo?) said, "You fight when you should deal."

There's nothing new about naysayers, nothing special about critics, nothing fulfilling about tearing others down.

Book says he don't care what you believe in, just believe.

I believe in these characters and these stories. And I believe in my fellow browncoats.

We're holding. And we're gonna keep flyin'.


---

Serenity is coming. 9/30/05.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 10:54 AM

VANCOUVER


I'm kind of a neophyte in all this-well, I'm a total newbie, in point of fact. New enough that my first thought was to reply to Devin himself, so I did. Here's what I said.

Hello there, Devin.

I'll start out by letting you know where I'm positioned in all of this, so you'll have an idea how to process my response. I'm new to the whole Internet-Browncoat scene--just found my first Serenity/Firefly site day before yesterday, as I noodled around trying to see what the outlook for a sequel or TV resurrection was--so I haven't been following your commentary from the start. I happened across Joss Whedon's response to your non-review, and had a lot of the same questions you did about writers vis-a-vis fans. That said, emotionally I'm totally invested: I feel sick at heart at the idea of the movie not doing well enough, and even sicker at the cancellation of the TV show, which was clearly the best venue for the concept. So I'm passionate, even something of a zealot, though perhaps not full-on rabid.

I found your latest CHUD piece well-thought-out and well-written. Thank you for that. (I have no idea what CHUD is, but I'll check it out over the next few days.) Your intrigue about Firefly and its fan base reminds me of my own take on the about Michael Jordan frenzy back in the early '90s. I wrote a lot of thoughtful articles about that--meaning thoughtful in both the amount of thought, and in consideration--so I think I know where you're coming from with this, and I believe that your comments are in good faith, not meant to be malign.

The thing is, do you fully believe your own analysis of the Browncoats' grief? Because if you do, then the question of why they (we) have lost their (our) perspective is self-answering. In a state of grief, people do. I mean, if you go to someone's funeral, and you write up a piece on it that says, "Well, you know, she was a pretty great kid, she had lots of potential, lots of people loved her--but let's face it, she had cystic fibrosis, and it's a miracle that she lived as long as she did, and there have been other kids who deserved life as much or more who also died..."--well, you're going to get some anger, right? That's why they don't ask reporters to funerals. It hurts. It doesn't necessarily mean that we were deluded about that person in life, or that we weren't realistic about their prospects, or even that we don't know that we're distorting their memory. It just hurts, at the time, and there is no way for you or anyone to be sensitive and objective about it at the same time. To charge us, essentially, with having a disproportionate response can only add to the hurt. Ask us again a few years on, when Serenity/Firefly has long since faded, and you might get something more rational. But it's hardly a sign of greater objectivity, or rationality, to be able to comment as someone who didn't love upon the actions of those who did. Do you know what I mean?

You are dealing here, as well, with two things that the fans of other cancelled shows haven't had: hope, and a second death. Firefly's characters were given new hope, and new life, and you must be able to understand that when the specialist has come in and, against all odds, said, "Your child might live", and brought her to a new state of health and activity, it is all that much harder to accept that the death is real. And, if I may say so, no bystander with an iota of human understanding would expect the emotional reality to be, "Well, at least she got a bit more time than she was supposed to." That's the kind of thing people say to cope; it's not how they're really feeling, and it won't be for quite a long time she's dead and buried.

Understanding that "grief is the price we pay for love," as Queen Elizabeth (! of all people) put it, don't you think the question is less why we're in such a state of grief, and more why we felt such an excess of love? I can't agree with you, by the way, that the love, or the fanbase, is "unprecedented"; it's just that the precedents are in different places, namely 1) in sports, especially European football, and 2) centred around celebrities, rather than creations. Quite a number of people have died for supporting Real Madrid instead of Barcelona, or been assaulted for wearing a Man U t-shirt in Man City territory. That's a few steps beyond giving someone free movie tickets. And look at Elvis, and the Beatles. Graceland makes FireflyFan.net look like a tiny buzzing gnat by comparison.

From this, I think the logical inference is that either Firefly in the space of 11 episodes somehow attained the kind of cultural importance, to its adherents, that soccer has over the space of many decades in Europe and some other parts of the world, or it somehow attained the status of a person, despite being a fictional creation. Why that would be, and what it says about the U.S., I wouldn't venture to say, off the top of my head. I would suggest, though, that it says something remarkable about the entity, and in turn about Joss Whedon.

What do you think? I must hie off now--to see Serenity, actually--and I've said everything I was thinking anyway, but I'm sure I'll have more thoughts, and you will too. I look forward to reading more of your commentary.
Sincerely,
Vancouver

Vancouver

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 11:03 AM

SPINLAND


Wow. That was an incredible piece. Thank you for writing it, for putting Devin in his place so gently yet firmly, and for sharing it with us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"That's what governments are for, [to] get in a man's way." -- Malcolm Reynolds

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 11:03 AM

STAKETHELURK


Please, please, please do not go to his site or respond directly to him. This is the third in a series of articles in which he basically repeats the same ideas. Why is he writing about this for the third time? Because it gets him more hits for his website. Browncoats and browncoat-haters all rush to see what he has to say--which is why he’s been writing three articles saying the same thing (Joss was responding to the first article). He’s just whining for attention at this point, and I say we ignore him.

All three of his articles have been discussed at length over at Whedonesque for the past week. Here’s some relevant points:

Article One:
Quote:

Originally posted by bonzob on Whedonesque:

This makes me angry in many ways. Especially the "it shouldn't be a movie" part. I love when internet critics just ignore a whole boatload of positive reviews to make it sound like their opinion is absolute fact. So according to rottentomatoes, there are 90 critics who would disagree with your assesment. While the box office is not that great, it's also not the end. Joss has always said this will be a word of mouth movie.

Quote:

Originally posted by Odysseus on Whedonesque:

I pretty much disagree with everything the guy said. But having read some of his past articles about Firefly/Serenity I have a lot of trouble even taking him seriously. I'm ok with him having a different opinion. I just don't like the snide tone he takes to express it.

The snide attitude comes in when he says the movie shouldn't have been made - kind of backhands his comment about it deserving to do well. How can a movie that "deserves to do well" not deserve to be made? He says it's lazy writing like it's a fact not an opinion. He acts like he is 100 percent certain there will be fan backlash, saying we will blame Universal. The last paragraph he insults us for our "finger pointing" that I have yet to even see.

Quote:

Originally posted by Unitas:

Oh, does anyone agree with Devin's last comment? Is hardcore fanning (is this a word?) turning people off of some movies? Personally, I don't really see it. Star Trek just seemed to run out of steam (finally). Star Wars is the biggest film of the year. As for Serenity, I have hard time believing that the fan base was so difficult that it literally kept a sizeable number people out of theatres. That seems a little much.

Quote:

Originally posted by eddy on Whedonesque:

Oh and "more than slightly ashamed that they conferred a weird group identity upon themselves." is a total slap in the face to all fandoms IMO. What is wrong with being part of a group? The thing I can take out of all Joss' shows is that its a good thing to be part of a group who have the same goals and interests and that if you work together you can accomplish anything.

Quote:

Originally posted by jenolen on Whedonesque:

His assertation:

"The film will, most likely, make some money overseas (although I tend to think not in non-English markets) and will definitely earn a bunch on DVD, but domestic box office is generally what it’s all about."

... means he is either totally out of touch with the realities of the entertainment business, or has, at best, an amateur-level understanding of the economics of moviemaking.

Some proof? How about this quote, from Variety, courtesy the View Askewniverse:

But as DVD revenues become more important to studios -- in 2003, DVD sales totaled $11.9 billion, according to Variety sibling Video Business, nearly 30% bigger than the $9.2 billion in U.S. box office that year -- studios began to look for talent who could move units at Wal-Mart the same way Cruise fills seats at the multiplex... DVD dollars are worth more to the studios than box office dollars, because they keep the lion's share of homevideo revenues.

Hmm. DVD sales... Anybody here know a franchise launched on the basis of fantastic DVD sales? Not to mention...

Foreign B.O. used to be an afterthought in the movie biz, gravy that could pad studio balance sheets. But as it grew, stars emerged, like Sylvester Stallone or Charles Bronson, whose pics -- hits or flops -- seemed to magically double their U.S. grosses when sent abroad.

I'm not worried about the future of the franchise. At a budget of $40 million, this movie will make money for Universal. And, more importantly, it should make enough, when all ancillary revenues are counted, to earn a green-light for future films, provided they stay in the same budgetary ballpark.

My $.02...

Article Two:
Quote:

Originally posted by phlebotinin on Whedonesque:
Devin must be *loving* this controversy and the continued links from whedonesque to his editorials. He's getting free and fabulous advertising. And it's not over! The crazy pot keeps getting stirred and we've got another editorial to look forward to. I agree with those who wish this would just die already.

Quote:

Originally posted by Allyson on Whedonesque:
No one would have read this if it hadn't been posted here to begin with. Seriously, if I want to sell a lot of books, I'm going to call it, "Browncoats Smell Like Poo." It will fly off the shelves.

He's like a little kid who learned how to get attention by lighting things on fire.

Quote:

Originally posted by killinj:
I still find it hard to believe that there are enough of these obnoxious Browncoats to make as big a difference as Devin claims. Yes, I'm sure its put off a lot of people who visit AICN or other sites that have been canvassed alot with news and praise for Serenity. But, the number of people who visit those sites and read those threads are no where near representative of the general SCI-FI population. Honestly, I think the biggest problem with Serenity is that people (outside the Internet junkies) haven't heard of the film and don't know what it's about. No doubt, he has some valid critisms and we've got some loonie fans. I just think more of the article should have focused on the other explanations (and he provide some) for why the box office didn't meet expectations.

Article Three (the one posted):
Quote:

Originally posted by dizzy on Whedonesque:
The fact that he reads up on all the Firefly/Sernity sites to gauge the fan reaction to his articles speaks volumes to me.

Quote:

Originally posted by Zoic_Fan on Whedonesque:
Firefly fans have been in denial from the moment Firefly was premiered on a Friday night in 2002 and we are still in denial now and will continue to be in denial all through its DVD release and we will probably be in denial when the third movie comes out and again when the Sci-Fi channel produces a spin-off series and all that time we will have to put up with people like this telling us that we should give up, because there is no way that this series will continue in any way shape or form.

Never underestimate the Browncoats.

Quote:

Originally posted by IMMORTAL on Whedonesque:
I don't agree with the use of fans as a marketing tool. It's not like Universal had all this money earmarked for marketing and decided to pull it and use the fans instead. Whatever the fans did in terms of marketing would not have been there otherwise.

I think any prospects for a sequel whether it be theatrical or direct to DVD is premature. I think a strong argument can be made for either. This seems to be an odd month and I feel the percentages are there if the dollars aren't. It took 1500 more screens for W&G to get a $16 million dollar weekend. Percentage wise Serenity has gotten it's share of the total dollars spent. I'm pretty sure the story will continue even if it's in novelization or comic book form.

"The Browncoats are mostly self-identified, and the Browncoats I’m talking about here are the sort of rabid fans who call it “our” movie, as if they made it)..." Joss has said on numerous occasions that it was the fan's movie. "The fans made it possible" has been the company line.

Quote:

Originally posted by KBP on Whedonesque:
A 22 paragraph article that reads exactly the same as the last thing he wrote?

And we're the obsessive ones?

Ok.

Quote:

Originally posted by EdDantes on Whedonesque:
I was somehow actually still expecting him to come up with SOMEthing new to say. But not so much. 'I told you so', 'Browncoats are nerds!', etc. And still the claims that it's not for publicity. That actually made me smile a little. He should go into politics. It takes a certain chutzpah to actually say such things and believe you sound credible anymore.

A particularly funny line I thought was about how people 'shouldn't' see a movie several times, apparently for no other reason than that he thinks they shouldn't. Oddly enough I think most of us still tend to make those decisions for ourselves. I don't recall Universal twisting my arm.

Quote:

Originally posted by technovamp on Whedonesque:
I think some of Devin's article is interesting and raises valid questions. The main point he misses is that there is a fight going on about getting quality shows onto TV and film and Joss is very much a focal point in that fight. We don't have many good ways of getting involved in that, apart from buying lots of DVD's. There may be issues about fan involvement with Universal marketing but I think they are secondary to the fact that they have done something good and do deserve support from anybody who cares about that.

I can answer one of his questions. I've been in various fandoms since the 70's and the Browncoats aren't rabid at all by comparison.

Unfortunately it isn't just about a sequel to 'Serenity'. It's about how good the movies and TV are going to be. I'll be sad if we don't get a sequel. I'll get over it if we get more good stuff from Joss and others (and if the cast get lots of good work) but I don't think I'll get over it if I there is nothing good in its place. Supporting 'Serenity' is about more than being a fan of just one movie.

Quote:

Originally posted by EdDantes on Whedonesque:
I'm sorry but no fan was taken advantage of. No one was tricked, or lied to or forced to do anything. Any Browncoat, from mellow and polite to overzelous and fanatical, that tried to help the movie in any way, did so out of free will. No one ever calls it 'taken advantage of' when people volunteer to help in the campaign of their political candidate of choice do they?

“Devin's point never seemed to be that the fandom existed or was hyped on the radio -- rather his point was that the fandom was creepy and disturbing and overzealous. He said it wasn't the marketing but the fan evangelism that was the problem.”

Yes and as many others pointed out during the many times Devin repeated that same point: that argument doesn't stand.

The only people that could've turned this into a hit are the mainstream audiences. The mainstream audiences barely know about Serenity. What they know often doesn't help. (No name actors, the words 'failed TV show' popping up, they think it's about a girl named 'Serenity, some think it's got aliens, some think it's a chick flic, etc.)

What the mainstream audience does not really know of however, is 'Browncoats'. And even if they did, if they were initially attracted to the movie, they'd still go. The mainstream audiences are completely aware about the fanatical Star Wars fans for example. They see them on the news, dressed up in the streets, sleeping on the sidewalk for weeks or even months before the movie opens. People laugh at them, find them creepy and nerdy and can't believe they are so weird! And then they still go to see the new Star Wars movie.

Serenity just didn't reach enough people in spite of everyone's best efforts. (Well apart from the piss-poor second week advertising).

So, we can discuss this, but don’t take this guy seriously and please don’t encourage him by visiting his site or replying to him. He might make a few good points, but that’s merely accidental--by this point he’s writing it for himself. Just let this whole “controversy” die.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 11:09 AM

OBIWAN


Bickle? Is that you?

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 11:24 AM

SOKOLOV


"It’s been interesting, this past week, to watch the Browncoats go through all the stages of grieving as laid out by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross."

I stopped reading after this sentence.

Why? Because there is no such thing as "stages of grieving as laid out by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross."

What Elisabeth (yes, with an 's') did do was set out steps for a person who is APPROACHING DEATH (e.g. terminally ill).

Thus, it originally has nothing to do with grief. The grief idea has been popularized by the same people who thinks the "law of averages" exists. (Altho Elisabeth did admit in her book that she believed it MIGHT be applicable to other instances of loss, such as divorce.)

Ultimately, emotions are so complicated and individual it can hardly be "summarized" into 5 steps that everyone experiences, especially when you extrapolate it to an entire community.

I always find it sad that presumably educated people don't actually know what they are talking about.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 11:49 AM

THANATUS


Well stated Sokolov...if not a little harsh. This is a common misconception outside the realm of healthcare, clergy, and hospice among others. In fact, it is co common a misconception that it has, right or wrong, become a part of the vernacular. You might want to read the rest of the article, though. Actually, it's not quite as sweeping a condemnation as one might imagine.

Cheers

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 12:11 PM

OPENNING


I think what bothered me the most about the article was the thought that, because I'm not an American, there was little I could do. I realize that this probably puts me in the 'overzealous' category, but the only thing I thought as I read this article was "...so the fact that I've seen this movie more than once and have been getting my friends to go see it is pointless?"

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 12:14 PM

NERVOUSPETE



I agree with Vancouver and want to buy him a lovely pint of beer. A really nice beer as well, a micro-brewery or something, none of your piss Carling or Coors!

I sent a massive email to Devin, long-winded as only mine can be. I tend to try and cover all points of views in my emails, and this gets annoying sometimes as ("Get on with it, fool," - the Ghost of Dorothy Parker)

Erk. Sorry, Dorothy.

I sort of agree with Devin, but it could be because this is the first time I've been with a fan community and I'm always a little freaked out by people saying, "I've been to see it ten times!" and "Ambush people at the entrance, beg them to see this!" But then the only film I've ever seen three times at the cinema before is the genuinely wonderful (and I don't care, I'll fight you all!) 'Master & Commander', so what do I know, eh?

I agree with Devin that I don't like the way companies are beginning to co-opt fans as unpaid marketing tools. I agree with him that a fan's obligation is to go see the film as many times as they want, talk it up as much as they want, and maybe call in dark and terrible Godfatheresque 'favours'. All this guerilla marketing makes me a little wary. At first I was all for it, thinking of enigmatic little flyers here and there and the odd mini-spray painting. A little tribute to a love for all the world to see. Then I began to suspect that what they actually want, and get in some cases, is lots of money and time spent effectively doing their marketing department's job for them.

Which, curiously, Universal's more or less did. They promoted it as much as any other film in that budget bracket, I've seen posters, trailers and TV spots - and not on the internet either. In the UK at least, I don't know about the US. There could have been more TV interviews, but that was down to the TV stations themselves balking at what they saw as unknowns taking up valuable couch space.

Ultimately the fault lies with a long decay of expectation and imagination in the general audience. Anything threatening to be new, original and untested is as much shunned by viewers as by the corporations, tragically. This is why Star Trek trucks on right up until the wreck that was Enterprise, while lovely little things like Eerie Indianna and Wonderfalls explode in salty tears. Or something. That's probably why Serenity was doomed on the big screen. Star Wars is known, people almost have a gorram sense of obligation to see it - even if they aren't fans because it is an institution. Serenity isn't - it's loveingly obscure in its beliefs and charms, and thus is ignored. Believe me, it sends me to bed crying.

I have only been amazed once by a cinematic miracle, and that is over Donnie Darko suddenly exploding and the depresso-ace cover single 'Mad World' hitting Christmas No.1 in the UK. "Touche!" you may say, "this means that Serenity can be exactly such a sleeper with the dedication of her fans!"

But Donnie Darko, like Firefly, didn't have any fans before it existed. It had to grab them by the balls and drag them into its world. As the old adage says, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink." Innocent word of mouth succeeds where fannish clawing fails.

I'm afraid I'm going to rant a little here - and it's not aimed just at Browncoats but fandom in general, though the Browncoat phenonomon has brought it to my attention. This is addressed to the real hardcore.

Not that we shouldn't shout its praises - if you love any film, book or show you should do that. But as Devin said, one shouldn't approach it from the angle of a military campaign, or a religious angle - because you can only end up hurting yourself, and perhaps other people.

The main annoyance I have with fandom is its fanatical exclusion of other works. In an ideal world, I believe people would be running all over the place sampling many other wonderful things. There are even greater stories than Firefly out there that deserve attention as well - which is why film novelisations feck me off so much for a start. You should treasure the stuff that spoke to you, yes, but you should feel no obligation to get into bed with it, eat, sleep and excrete it to the exception of others. That's only what Stargate fans are doing to Firefly and Serenity! (And I wink with that statement I assure you)

You may argue that you like, nay love, other things as well. Fine. But how much more is out there? In books, film, art and TV? How many other films this Septemeber should we see, how many radio plays should we hear, how many books should we read? I don't think anyone should see a film more than five times unless it's the most heartbreakingly utterly amazingly wonderful thing that has ever been created. Which Serenity isn't. It's a top film, 8.5/10 from me, but it's not THAT stupendous.

I realise I've long since wandered from the point as usual, but I'm trying to encapsulate my fears for the way fandom is going and the way corporations are going to take advantage of that. I hate the notion that we'll be thrown bones and ravenously devour them out of a sense of loyalty, and snarl at those who say we're taking it too far, or dare to disagree.

And so I'm agreeing with Devin - to a degree - he's wrong to solely pick on Browncoats, there are other fandoms it seems who do this, and he's wrong to err his article on the side of defeatism...

... but it's a timely warning, and one that we should heed, that although we may be able to achieve the impossible - that may not always make us mighty. Quite the reverse in fact.

It can leave us vulnerable.

(He said, stroking his beard, wondering if any of that made any sense at all. And then he realises it's because he cares too much, and it's because it's late, and that he shouldn't get so worked up over the film failing to make enough money - but what can he do? He likes Joss's stuff and feels the guy, the cast and the art should be given a break for once...)

Sorry. I'll be quiet now.

Time for a lie down.






(Oh no!)



"If you can keep your head whilst others... eurgh! Ack! I've spilt my ink! Ugh! Ink on my trousers! Agh! Ink on my shirt! My only hope! The window! Aieeeeee!" (Falls to death)
- Jonathan Nash

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 6:35 PM

UNICORN


Openning, I've been feeling fairly useless and powerless too. I suppose I'm one of the crazies described by the CHUD author, seeing as a great deal of my personal happiness and well-being are tied up in the success of Serenity and in its ability to earn a sequel or sequels or (oh please!) to rekindle the series.

I guess it's crazy that I, usually an extremely anti-corporate soul and on top of that, an anti-proseletizer, have allowed myself "to be a tool of the man," and do as much advertizing as I can for this film. I would ordinarily agree D. of CHUD that being such a tool is a sign of weak brains and weaker wills.

But here's the thing, and I think a lot of you guys reading know what I mean: I'm not doing this for Universal, or even for Joss, though you gotta love him if you love Serenity... I'm doing this for purely selfish reasons, and it's my choice to do so. How often does something this good come along? I'm not one for a stiff upper lip. If I love something and there's anything I can do, I have to try. And yes, we're on the ropes, but when have we ever NOT been? I'm sorry, maybe my hearing's deficient, but I'm not hearing the fat lady just yet, and I'm not giving up. If I'm delusional, pardon me. I'm polite and quiet and not pushy when I talk to people about this movie, but I will continue to try, because if I don't, I'll be wretched.

Vancouver, thank you for your beautiful post.

There is no such thing as a weed.


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 7:19 PM

DREAMTROVE


I posted this already, but here it is again.

Serenity was a success from the point of view of firefly, because of the effect it had on the series, kicking the original dvd collection to amazon sales rank #1 for television. This was a phenomenal response by itself.

Secondly, all vote padding aside, it's rocket on to the IMDB top 250 is very clearly justified by the vote distribution. This is also remarkable.

What these say is that interest in the show is alive well and larger than ever, and at the same time, the product is of a quality that can easily compete with big massive scifi efforts such as star wars or terminator, and perhaps more than stng.

What else was shown was that it didn't slay at the box office. So what, neither did 1/2 the movies on the imdb top 250, including shawshank redemption, the #2 film.

Here's some logic, people:

Serenity was a movie which was a continuation of a TV show. Generally no one watches such a movie except those who watched the show. This show had about a million fans before. That would yield it
$7M in BO receipts. Anything above that is a miracle.

Basically it did as well as could be expected and had the desired auxialliary effects. It was a calculated move by Joss to achieve his ends, and revive the series, and I think he did well. Kudos to Joss.

I'm going to kill them all. That oughtta distract 'em

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 7:23 PM

DREAMTROVE


You know whoever owns this site assuming they wrote this code, please go in an add a little barrier or signifier of some sort for the signature.
It comes out as just more text, and it really needs to be auto-distinguished in some way from the regular text.



Quote:


I'm going to kill them all. That oughtta distract 'em


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005 9:35 PM

RACEFANZ


jesus christ that article from ANTHONYT was the most bloviated long winded post ive ever had to stop reading, damn

This site is the best for general movie finanical, etc. information. The BDM still hasnt broke even.
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=daily&id=serenity.htm

Those that beat their swords into plowshares will farm for those of us that dont.

Steve from Yuma....OUT

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 1:52 AM

CLJOHNSTON108


Quote:

Originally posted by StakeTheLurk:
This is the third in a series of articles in which he basically repeats the same ideas.

Kinda like Kenneth Turan's campaign against "Titanic".

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 3:10 AM

MARK


Let me talk plain...

I like Firefly. I like the idea, I like the people (The women are all hot and the guys are all cool), I like the stories that are told and I like the humour.

All this about the fans being co-opted by the corporate advertising collective... It's Go-Sah. The fans know that if a film/TV show does poorly then there will be no more of it. Thus, if we want to see more of our fictional friends, then the film/TV series must succeed. We appreciate that the studios will only put a certain amount of effort into promoting their product so if we want to enhance the chances of a success, we have to add our own efforts. Be that preaching the gospel of Joss or going to the film 10 times. (I'm only up to 3 so far, but the UK box office is doing OK so that's not such a problem.)

It's like your local bakery threatening to stop making your favourite snacks... Unless you can convince lots of people to ask them not to, then the yummy stuff is going away. And you have to do it. No-one else will.

--

Twelve spheres of unendurable brightness spalled the velvety blackness of space.
The silence on Lester Tourville's flag bridge was absolute
And then the spell was broken as Shannon Foraker looked up from her console from where she had just sent a seemingly innocent command to the main computers of State Security's finest Superdreadnoughts.
"Oops." She said.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 6:07 AM

VANCOUVER


Thank you for the compliment. In truth, I wrote it in fatigue and haste, and it came out kind of incoherent. (Sorry, folks, for writing him directly, if this is just more flogging of a dead horse: I didn't know.) Also, it might have been misleading about my own take on the whole thing. To clarify, I was trying to say to him, in a nutshell, that if he really believes it's dead, and he really perceives us to be in grief, why is he standing around and pointing fingers--and, more than that, how on earth can he be surprised if people get pissed off at him for it?

This does NOT mean that I agree with him that it's dead. In fact, I don't. I have seen many variations on defeatist stances like Devin's, from the whole "all politicians are corrupt" attitude to "why agitate on behalf of the environment/sweatshop workers/the underclass of New Orleans/better sports coverage on the local channels etc etc"--and, without exception, it is always just an excuse for apathy. Or, to be less simplistic about it, I believe that the people who hold these sorts of views are exaggerating individuals' lack of power in order to avoid taking responsibility for the world they live in.

Now, I'm not an idealist at all: I'm the most pragmatic person I know. But even I can see that, besides being morally distasteful, this kind of position is logically invalid. Unless you believe, somehow, that society is not made up of the people in it, it makes no sense to say that the people who make up society can have no effect on it. I mean, we ARE it. It's like being in a car and saying, "Why bother steering, when the car is gonna go in the wrong direction anyway?"

Or, to use the more relevant parallel, it's like saying "I'm not gonna vote for Blah Blah because he's gonna lose anyway," and then standing back afterwards, when Blah Blah does lose, and saying "See? I was right." It doesn't take a whiz kid (believe me, I'm not one) to see that someone's grip on causality is a bit on the iffy side. Both the belief in inaction and the belief in action will perpetuate and fulfill their own prophecies: that's the mathematical reality of it. Really what Devin and others of his ilk are doing is asking us to join them on their side--and why in god's name would we want to do that? No only is their brand of existential bystander apathy objectionable to behold and harmful to everything it touches, but when it does win, it's an awfully Pyrrhic kind of victory. "Lookit: We have no power, nothing we do matters, we may as well not care about anything because our lives are all at the whimsical behest of corrupt higher powers..." God, go jump off a bridge already.

The same illogic applies to Devin's pseudo-rational explanation that this is "not how movies get made". Movies get made however people make them. He's staring straight in the face of a movie that got made the way movies don't get made, and saying that there won't be a sequel because that's not how movies get made? There's a man who has really convinced himself that someone else is in charge--probably by looking in the mirror every morning and repeating 20 times, "It's their world: we just live in it."

And, as one final highfalutin' addendum, I think it is also illogical for Devin to acknowledge the changing nature of media and society in the interactive Internet age and, in practically the same breath, hew to the old line about how things get done in corporate Hollywood. The Heisenbergian principle is at work like it has never been before, now that so many things are in a state of continual observation, and I don't "the way things are" stays put from one week to the next. Change has been accelerated, and you Firefly fans have been the ones to press the pedal in at least one area. So.

On a less abstract note, I went to Serenity again last night (Tuesday)--and I don't know if it was the difference between the suburban theatre I'd seen it in before and this one, in downtown Vancouver, or if word of mouth is starting to take hold, but the theatre was almost full! At 6:50 on a Tuesday night! (It used to be discount night, but hasn't been for a few years: everybody paid their full $10.50.) When a group of four came in just as the movie was starting, they were forced to sit right at the front, to get that many seats together. The main entertainment paper in this part of the world has a review of Serenity in its current edition--a very positive one, by a regular reviewer who turns out to be a closet Browncoater, and who writes that when the camera pulls back to show Serenity's battered but shiny sides, his "eyes filled with tears". So there you go. It's showing in two theatres still at all the complexes, by the way, so even when the onslaught of new openings hits tonight and on Friday, it should only drop down to one, at worst. I know this is a little part of the world, in terms of population, but we do help make up the whole.

Vancouver

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 6:09 AM

VANCOUVER


Thank you for the compliment, Spinland. In truth, I wrote it in fatigue and haste, and it came out kind of incoherent. (Sorry, folks, for writing him directly, if this is just more flogging of a dead horse: I didn't know.) Also, it might have been misleading about my own take on the whole thing. To clarify, I was trying to say to him, in a nutshell, that if he really believes it's dead, and he really perceives us to be in grief, why is he standing around and pointing fingers--and, more than that, how on earth can he be surprised if people get pissed off at him for it?

This does NOT mean that I agree with him that it's dead. In fact, I don't. I have seen many variations on defeatist stances like Devin's, from the whole "all politicians are corrupt" attitude to "why agitate on behalf of the environment/sweatshop workers/the underclass of New Orleans/better sports coverage on the local channels etc etc"--and, without exception, it is always just an excuse for apathy. Or, to be less simplistic about it, I believe that the people who hold these sorts of views are exaggerating individuals' lack of power in order to avoid taking responsibility for the world they live in.

Now, I'm not an idealist at all: I'm the most pragmatic person I know. But even I can see that, besides being morally distasteful, this kind of position is logically invalid. Unless you believe, somehow, that society is not made up of the people in it, it makes no sense to say that the people who make up society can have no effect on it. I mean, we ARE it. It's like being in a car and saying, "Why bother steering, when the car is gonna go in the wrong direction anyway?"

Or, to use the more relevant parallel, it's like saying "I'm not gonna vote for Blah Blah because he's gonna lose anyway," and then standing back afterwards, when Blah Blah does lose, and saying "See? I was right." It doesn't take a whiz kid (believe me, I'm not one) to see that someone's grip on causality is a bit on the iffy side. Both the belief in inaction and the belief in action will perpetuate and fulfill their own prophecies: that's the mathematical reality of it. Really what Devin and others of his ilk are doing is asking us to join them on their side--and why in god's name would we want to do that? No only is their brand of existential bystander apathy objectionable to behold and harmful to everything it touches, but when it does win, it's an awfully Pyrrhic kind of victory. "Lookit: We have no power, nothing we do matters, we may as well not care about anything because our lives are all at the whimsical behest of corrupt higher powers..." God, go jump off a bridge already.

The same illogic applies to Devin's pseudo-rational explanation that this is "not how movies get made". Movies get made however people make them. He's staring straight in the face of a movie that got made the way movies don't get made, and saying that there won't be a sequel because that's not how movies get made? There's a man who has really convinced himself that someone else is in charge--probably by looking in the mirror every morning and repeating 20 times, "It's their world: we just live in it."

And, as one final highfalutin' addendum, I think it is also illogical for Devin to acknowledge the changing nature of media and society in the interactive Internet age and, in practically the same breath, hew to the old line about how things get done in corporate Hollywood. The Heisenbergian principle is at work like it has never been before, now that so many things are in a state of continual observation, and I don't "the way things are" stays put from one week to the next. Change has been accelerated, and you Firefly fans have been the ones to press the pedal in at least one area. So.

On a less abstract note, I went to Serenity again last night (Tuesday)--and I don't know if it was the difference between the suburban theatre I'd seen it in before and this one, in downtown Vancouver, or if word of mouth is starting to take hold, but the theatre was almost full! At 6:50 on a Tuesday night! (It used to be discount night, but hasn't been for a few years: everybody paid their full $10.50.) When a group of four came in just as the movie was starting, they were forced to sit right at the front, to get that many seats together. The main entertainment paper in this part of the world has a review of Serenity in its current edition--a very positive one, by a regular reviewer who turns out to be a closet Browncoater, and who writes that when the camera pulls back to show Serenity's battered but shiny sides, his "eyes filled with tears". So there you go. It's showing in two theatres still at all the complexes, by the way, so even when the onslaught of new openings hits tonight and on Friday, it should only drop down to one, at worst. I know this is a little part of the world, in terms of population, but we do help make up the whole.

Vancouver

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005 11:04 AM

NERVOUSPETE



I wish I could make up my mind on what to think - some of Devin's article I agreed with, and then I found myself disagreeing with most of it, and now I'm all confused again. Gagh. Maybe I should wait a few weeks before fixing my brain and enjoy the ride.

What this means is - some of what I said back up there may be entirely guff. I'm new to the world of fandom, and while Firefly is sweet there's a few things that freak me out about these stop the cancellation/guerilla marketing campaigns be they for Firefly, Farscape or anything else.

The only certainty after literally a day of soul searching I came up with was that networks should be forced to honour legally binding contracts in season, regularily timed blocks. Thus we can avoid guff like this happening to series and the creators can get a chance to wrap up storylines to satisfaction.




"If you can keep your head whilst others... eurgh! Ack! I've spilt my ink! Ugh! Ink on my trousers! Agh! Ink on my shirt! My only hope! The window! Aieeeeee!" (Falls to death)
- Jonathan Nash

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Thursday, October 13, 2005 10:52 AM

CURVIEGIRL72


Even though fans often have strong opinions and wonderful suggestions, at the end of the day I don’t think that fans should dictate what direction a show or a film takes. They can discourse excitedly about where they’d like a show or a film to go with its characters and plot, but I think that the writer/director should ultimately do what he thinks is best. If it makes logical and artistic sense to, say, kill off a character… no matter how much we love (and will miss) that character (and oh boy, will we ever), we don’t get to quash that from happening just because we’ll find it painful to watch. Isn’t it a testament to the show and the writing and the acting that we feel that way about these characters? Can’t we take a step back and appreciate the storytelling aspect of it? It’s powerful stuff.

I think there are plenty of people out there who get overly enthusiastic to the point of extremism. We’ve certainly seen people get so emotional about a series or set of characters, they become infuriated or distraught when things don’t go the way they want it to. (Let’s not even talk about how friends of mine and I felt about the “afterschool special” flavor of how Willow’s descent into dark magic was presented, in Buffy season 6. LOL)

In fact, I’m sure there could be fascinating case studies written by psychologists, as to why a person "latches on" to a particular show, why one takes it as seriously as one does.

However, to compare the Browncoats fanbase to religious fanaticism... oh my. That there’s some crazy talk, that’s what that is.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying a film. Sez the woman who has seen Serenity three times. (Is it who or whom? Aw hell, "If I had wanted schooling, I’da gone to school." – Jayne Cobb)

I’m 33 years old. I haven’t seen a movie this many times in the theatre since I was 12. (The Karate Kid. There was a crush involved. Shut up, it’s a good movie.)

But here’s the thing. The reason I went three times was to show my support. Support for someone whom I think does it right. I think Joss Whedon is an extraordinarily talented writer and director. I think it’s a gift to see someone so dedicated to his craft, presenting honest storytelling with characters that emotionally evolve. I also think it’s a rare thing to see someone in Joss’ position have an attitude of fun and respect for the work, and for the people with whom he works.

I greatly appreciate that.

In an industry where soulless, mindless, uninteresting films have become the norm, I want to honor the underdog who works hard and does something well.

Maybe my pathetic three tickets (and those of the friends I went with) won’t make this movie a “blockbuster” or even build up the numbers enough to warrant a sequel. But I still wanted to show my support in the way I could. If that meant seeing this movie more than once, then pardon my “fanatical” paraphrasing, but no power in the ‘verse was gonna stop me from going. :D

Sherry

MAL: I tell ya, Zoe, we find ourselves a mechanic, get her running again. Hire a good pilot. Maybe even a cook. Live like real people. Small crew, them as feel the need to be free. Take jobs as they come -- and we'll never be under the heel of nobody ever again. No matter how long the arm of the Alliance might get, we'll just get ourselves a little further.
ZOE: Get her running again?
MAL: Yeah.
ZOE: So not running now?
MAL: Not so much.
--"Out of Gas"

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